Robin Duff

Mad and bad unions holding us to ransom

Rodney Hide takes the NZEI and PPTA to task:

The teacher unions are the most cantankerous in the country. The seamen, the watersiders and the miners are pussycats.

Gone are the days of the ferries going on strike at the start of the school holidays. The freezing workers no longer hold farmers to ransom. The picket that left Mangere Bridge unfinished for two-and-a-half years is now unthinkable.

But the teacher unions? They’re the baddest and the maddest. They dictate education policy, destabilise duly elected ministers of education and present themselves as the arbiters of right and proper schooling.

They’re rich, powerful and unassailable. The New Zealand Educational Institute has 50,000 members and $18 million a year. The Post Primary Teachers’ Association has 17,000 members and $9 million a year. That’s a lot of money. And the teacher unions use it. They think nothing of taking out full-page newspaper ads and hiring commercial billboards to attack the Government.

I’m certain he means mad as in crazy.? Read more »

Opposed to Charter Schools? Use our System…Whoops

An email from a reader, and loyal army member:

Hi Cam

You ran a post a while ago with details of how to make a submission re Charter Schools. Even though the site was set up by NZEI and PPTA with the express purpose of making submissions against charter schools, I like many members of the Whale Army made an eloquent submission on behalf of charter schools.

They may not have read it fully as I got this from them this morning. I politely replied, thanking them for giving me the email addresses of everyone on the Select Committee and pointing out that in fact I was strongly in favour of charter schools, and that perhaps if they took their blinkers off and showed more concern for educating the children rather than campaigning to protect their patch, and refusing to implement initiatives as directed by their employers, they too might see the benefits of charter schools.

I then emailed everyone on the list, plus my MP, reinforcing that I strongly support the charter school provisions of the Education Amendment Bill, and explained why. It was nice to be able to do this so easily, using the email addresses supplied by the NZEI and PPTA.


They have claimed that every single one of the submission they orchestrated through their website were opposed. Well that simply isn’t true.? Read more »

Only 1 in 18 PPTA members against Charter Schools

Outgoing PPTA President Robin Duff has acknowledged that, despite spending thousand of members (i.e. taxpayers) funds on full page advertising only 1000 secondary teachers have responded to their desperate plea for submissions to the Bill that will allow Charter Schools.

With incoming President Angela “out of her depth” Roberts acknowledging that they have 18,000 members?the PPTA must be gutted. One in 18 against and/or care enough to say so.

NZEI must also be stunned to be sending in only 700 submissions. For all of Ian Leckie’s?vitriol you would have thought every primary school teacher was going to be crawling to the steps of parliament and writing their submissions in the blood from their knees.

Roberts clearly has a superhero complex and she personally hopes “?to save the education system from the dangerous path it was heading down”. And one of the main things she wants to save the system from is the “de-professionalisation of teachers”.

At least she?acknowledges?that the NZ system is no longer “world class” (glad that mantra has gone – thought Robin Duff had something stuck in his throat) by saying:

“The aim should be to create an education system that worked systemically rather than creating pockets of success.”

?Roberts will be okay though she feels that her 12 years as a teacher at Stratford High School has prepared her for this role as PPTA President. All of the secondary teachers around the country must be excited.

New PPTA President also on another Planet

For years the NZEI/PPTA commanders have told the nation that teachers may look like their contracts have long holidays in them but the ever?vigilant, worked to the bone,?stressed, teachers are actually using that time to prepare and do professional development and barely get a moments rest.

However – new PPTA President Angela Roberts not only lets the public know the truth re: the length of teachers recreation she seems to forget that most of the rest of the taxpaying population (i.e. those that pay her wages) don’t have 13 weeks holiday a year.

Roberts is continuing the irrational bleating around Charter Schools and, despite the date having been out there for months, is suddenly concerned about the January 24 deadline for submissions to the select committee. Why the sudden concern?? Read more »

The PPTA’s War for Mediocrity

Robin Duff recently declared war on the New Zealand government:

?PPTA will now be able to focus its energies on fighting the government?s agenda of undermining New Zealand?s public education system.

?We will campaign actively against the imposition of charter schools and the constant reductions created by quarterly funding?and demand accountability for the Novopay and Christchurch Renewal Plan debacles,?

The latest international report (Timms) question just what Duff(er) and the PPTA are fighting for. They repeatedly say we should not have Charter Schools here (their one size fits all is fine) as they have them in the USA.

Well……the TIMMS reports have New Zealand achieving in the following:

Maths – below the USA at 4th and 8th grades and below the mid-point of tested countries.

Science – below the USA at 4th and 8th grades and bleow the mid-point for 4th grade.

Reading – below the USA, 23rd and with horrendous similar country comparisons.

Time for parents in New Zealand to demand better, demand innovation and for the unions to tell the truth.

The PPTA constantly tell us our education is world class…but the results show otherwise. Their War for?Mediocrity?is growing apace…it must be resisted.


Duff Talks Absolute Nonsense

It is a classic defensive tactic for people with an inherent interest in the failure of certain groups to protect their power through accusing others of doing what they specialise in.

PPTA relic Robin Duff writes an editorial in Herald on Charter Schools that first of all talks abject nonsense and then shifts the blame for educational failure to anywhere but his PPTA members.

Mr Duff begins with?clich?s – “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That happens to be a counter to the old – “If the PPTA is against it then it is probably a good thing for kids”.

Mr Duff then makes several baseless assertions re the success of one model of schooling – that currently runs 125 schools and has changed the pathways of 1000s of African American children for the good. Duff tries to cover himself with phrases like “tend to”, “magically”. With all due respect to Mr Duff the achievements of the KIPP schools make Mr Duff’s pale into insignificance. There are also plenty of other good models around the world that are doing things the one size fits all model the Duff advocates cannot do.

Without having been to a KIPP school Duff then makes completely unsupported assertions about what goes on there:??”renowned for drilling and teaching to the test – again creating the impression that marks are improving, but whether there is any deep learning going on is a moot point.” Of course it is a moot point if you don’t bother to actually find out.

And how on earth would Duff know this:

“This battery-hen model of education is not what the charter school pushers would ever choose for their own children” – does he know to which schools the Charter School advocate send their children. Sure the NZ teachers that are represented by this lack of integrity must ask for Duff’s resignation.


“drawn by the profits to be made”. Here Duff must know he is not telling the truth as he surely must be aware most Charter Schools are not-for-profit.

Apart from the nonsense which people have come to expect – there is something more disturbing that the PPTA/NZEI have not yet answered. Why do they have an inherent interest in the sustained failure of Maori children? In this editorial Duff chastises the Maori Party for coming out in support of the Partnership Schools proposal. I mean – how dare they be so concerned that over 30% of Maori children are not achieving the basic numeracy and literacy qualifications? How dare the Maori party be concerned about the 20% differential to non-Maori at Level 2 NCEA. We have a “world class system”. How dare the Maori Party be keen to trial something new and work with interested groups in the community on it. Surely they know that their place is to listen to experts like Mr Duff – like Bob the Builder – he will…

Also disturbing is that Duff shifts all?measurable?responsibility from his part of the profession:

“Educational improvement is a long, hard road that requires perseverance in dealing not just with schools but with the range of economic, health, housing and welfare polices that impact on learning.”

In other words. I, Robin Duff, don’t like the Charter School idea as it may threaten my power base. I don’t have any other ideas and, anyway, it is not my/our fault, and don’t expect anything to change in the near future. Teachers aren’t idealists you know – they can only do so much….

Where is Duff right?

At one point only. To counter the unsubstantiated nonsense people like him are talking and, more importantly, because the children will be funded on a per child basis through the taxes their parents, and others pay – the process should be absolutely open to public scrutiny.

NZEI/PPTA Arguments – based on New Orleans – DESTROYED

The Partnership Schools model is aimed at helping the bottom 20%. New Orleans is a city in the US historically struggling in the education of children.

The teacher unions brought?Karran Harper Royal from New Orleans?to say how bad Charter Schools had been for that state. First thing she admitted on Close Up was that some are working well (Ian Leckie and Robin Duff must have choked).

Turns out that there was a lot more for her to admit – as things mature in New Orleans for this model there is plenty of good there too:

Some key parts of the article:

The goal in New Orleans is to reverse years of educational decline. Before Katrina, state schools here had become starkly segregated on race and class lines as white and middle class families removed their children.

In the years since Katrina, student performance in tests has improved, and fewer students now go to failing schools. Students have achieved a higher average score in the ACT test, which measures readiness for college.

John White, Louisiana’s state superintendent of education, argues that decentralisation has freed schools to act in children’s best interests. Charter schools, state-funded but independently run by?non-profit groups, are now the norm in New Orleans. In the past school year, 78% of public school students were enrolled in charters. The proportion will rise this year. Such schools enjoy great flexibility in managing their time and allocating resources.

Lee said: “Schools receive a report card now, parents are savvy ? they research online and see how a school is performing. It’s no longer the neighbourhood school; it’s really parent choice.”

In Louisiana, the state sets clear limits on the marketplace. In the end, accountability to its testing regime trumps choice: the government will close a chronically underperforming public school even if parents continue to choose it.

The change in two years is evident to the students, who come up unprompted to tell outsiders of their pride in the school. One student, Henrietta London, said: “This school used to be a mess; children were learning nothing. My mum sent me here because they’re rebuilding the school and changing the culture.”

The pale blue corridors of Sci Academy, housed in a cluster of prefabricated blocks in New Orleans East, are lined with inspirational mottoes: “Chase perfection, catch excellence,” reads one. Another declares: “We’re never done, we’re never finished”.

Parents will love the next one – Duff and Leckie hate it.

The words are directed at students, but could apply just as well to the teachers, who are evaluated on each lesson. Staff here are regularly observed and receive constant feedback on their performance.

White is uncompromising about the virtues of choice, even if that means weak schools being driven to the wall. “I think competition is always to some degree destabilising to those who can’t compete,” he said. “I have no problem with a school that is failing parents and kids being essentially destabilised because parents aren’t choosing it.”‘

And the headline of the Article:

What the opponents of this model in NZ have not even begin to grasp is that education is about children and their families. The scare mongering crap being talked by NZEI & PPTA is exactly that…crap. it is time to put kids first and not to keep protecting their patch for political gain. Time also for Labour and NZ First to put children ahead of using this for their own political aspirations. Labour need to stand against the unions on this one – caring for kids may even help them.

Time for parents in NZ and all organisations involved in working for children in struggling areas to also see this opportunity and make a public stand for it. Don’t let the unions stuff up one fifth of the next generation just to retain their power base and maintain their protection of mediocrity.


PPTA members are so fragile that when the Minster of Education suggests that they try to pronounce the names of students correctly they are; “outraged” and Robin Duff considers suggesting to suggest names should be pronounced well is a “low blow” and even “dangerous”.

Student achievement appears to only be?cynically?considers as Duff says getting 5 out of 5 kids is an “overused manta”.

Ms Parata also reiterated her goal of raising student achievement.

“Those are our challenges. We all need to be able to meet them so that five out of five of our learners can, and will be successful. That is the challenge to the New Zealand education system.”

Mr Duff said the minister’s call for five out of five students to be achieving had become an “overused mantra”.

PPTA continuing to serve teachers and students in a bizarre manner.

Meanwhile a teacher emails me and writes that the worst surname screw up he has ever made was….



Coddington on Teacher Unions

Deborah Coddington has had a blinder so far this year…once again she is right on the money, this time about the teacher unions bleating over Charter Schools:

Why the fuss over charter schools? Given the hysterical ranting from teacher unions, you’d think we were returning to caning on the backside.

It won’t be compulsory for students to attend what are, essentially, alternative choices for parents to state or private schools. A bit like kura kaupapa.

But unions don’t like parental choice. They like telling parents what to do. Robin Duff, head of the PPTA, published an opinion piece comparing these evil charter schools with epic failures such as the Pike River mining disaster, the Global Financial Crisis and the grounding of the container ship Rena.

The commonality is that none are accountable. But charter schools are accountable to parents, something that many state schools are not.

I’m pretty sure we are about to see a paper from Waikato “university” about charter schools leading to increased child poverty and hand gun slayings.

Charter Schools promise to deliver what Tomorrow’s Schools was supposed to, parental control. The teacher unions have managed ti nullify boards, largely through indifference but mostly through intimidation. The teachers know though that they will be at the school long after the children have left and so will just wait out stroppy parents agitating for excellence.

Yes, there is evidence some overseas charter schools have proved to be failures, but that doesn’t mean they’re all a disaster. Many are the opposite.

In New Zealand, some state schools, too, are monumental failures, but I won’t hold my breath for an article from Duff castigating the state schooling system as an ideological disaster.

The whole reason that Charter Schools are even a?proposition?is the abject failure of many schools in low decile areas, despite the billions in extra funding.

At present the education system (state and private) is failing 20 per cent of our children, who leave unable to read and write, yet the unions will not accept that changes need to be made.

Yet when you think of it, a school is just bricks, wood, lawns, equipment. Isn’t what really matters the leadership, plus the ability to recruit and inspire great teachers?

The Government spends more than $4 billion on this country’s 7000 teachers, but how do parents sort out the good from the bad? By swapping stories in the carpark?

The answer is comprehensive league tables for as start, the?performance?pay for teachers, which of course needs quality measurement systems.

So how are we doing in New Zealand? We have many excellent teachers -nobody disputes that – but we don’t know what we don’t know because we’re not allowed to know. Few teachers referred to the Teachers Council for incompetency are deregistered, and of the ones who slip through, parents are never allowed to know their names, which school they are at, or which subjects they teach.

John Hattie, professor of education at Auckland University, believes excellent teachers can be identified, and emphasis should be put on education policy that develops teacher excellence. But it’s easier said than done, because “as teachers, we don’t acknowledge excellence ourselves.

“We have allowed the de-professionalising of our profession by allowing the ‘anything goes’ mentality.”

While the PPTA and NZEI remain firmly wedded to collective agreements, it will be difficult to introduce incentives to keep brilliant teachers in the classrooms when they must move into management for higher salaries. In union land, excellent teachers shouldn’t get more pay than incompetent colleagues on the same level because that’s not fair.

But it’s never the teachers’ fault when students fail – it’s families, lazy kids, the Government, dogs eating homework – and now the unions have got another excuse: charter schools.

The teacher unions have a choice, they can either be part of the solution or they will become part of the problem. The solution to that problem i they get in the way is a couple of steps involving changes to the way they organise. Like preventing them having a national award system, instead putting them on the same footing as every other worker in the private sector and bring in workplace location bargaining with no ability to go on strike because the teachers at one school scored a better deal they the teachers in another. Individual contracts would be a good start rather than?collective?agreements.

Finally if they don’t play ball there is always de-registration.

The hypocrisy of Robin Duff

We are well used to unionists telling us one thing and doing another. Robin Duff, head of the PPTA is no different. The PPTA and NZEI have fought the?government?to a stand still over National Standards.

Just yesterday they were calling for the data to be kept secret. Trevor Mallard even, bizarrely, tried to have National Standards data made more secret than SIS briefing papers.

Then Robin Duff in an opinion piece has this to say in opposition to Charter Schools:

Charter schools don’t have to follow the New Zealand curriculum or use the New Zealand qualification system and even though politicians mandate attendance at school for all children between the ages of 5 and 16, parliament will have no right or duty to scrutinise the activities of these schools.

The Official Information Act won’t apply, so it will be difficult for the media to enforce transparency. The other moderating influence on corrupt management practices in schools – unions – will be kept well clear.

The teachers union have opposed transparency every step of?the?way in education and now they are moaning that private training institutions should somehow be subject to the Official Information Act. They make out like this is a revelation and somehow evil ignoring the fact that every?integrated?and private school already enjoys freedom from busy bodies like him.

They don’t need the scrutiny of the OIA because their results speak for themselves.

To cap off his hypocrisy he then carps about an Act official being?appointed?to chair the committee to oversea?implementation of Charter Schools.

Not mention the fact this educational experiment will be monitored by a committee led by a woman whose sole qualifications appear to be that she “loves education” and has served on a school board. The appointment of former ACT president Catherine Isaac is clearly politically motivated and shows that the implementation of charter schools is not evidence-based, but ideologically driven.

Of course it is politically motivated, it is Act policy, why wouldn’t they want someone in tune with the policy overseeing the implementation. If the situation was reveres you don;t think Labour would be appointing a neutral person to oversee their key policies do you? Mike Williams when president of Labour had 6 government appointed directorships after all.